Game pass

Kotaku’s selection of indie titles to play on Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass is packed with great AAA titles, but also has a solid independent library to boot.

The Xbox Game Pass has been a great way for gamers to get started with new and old games, with a subscription fee allowing access to hundreds of titles. Much like the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls guiding the Playstation and Xbox’s foray into motion controls in the past, the rise of Xbox Game Pass has led Sony and Nintendo to dive into it as well. Type of. While Playstation plans to have a Game Pass type service available in 2022 by combining the cloud-based gaming service Playstation Now with the monthly free games offers from Playstation Plus, Nintendo only has access to more games. older games through its online subscription service (with a charge for slightly newer older games).

With the game subscription service offering a lot to occupy your time, sometimes there is so much to choose from it can feel overwhelming. However, if you’re looking for some cool indie games to get you started in Game Pass, we’ve got you covered.

Underworld

Image: Hades / Supergean Games.

Sure Underworld is here. The rogue-lite action dungeon crawler absolutely broke it in terms of praise and awards, winning the Game of the Year award in multiple in-game awards ceremonies and being the first video game to win a Hugo award.

You take on the role of Zagreus, son of Hades, as you attempt to escape your home and your evil daddy by hacking and making your way through the layers of the underworld. You will die, a lot, but it’s okay! Dying over and over again only makes you stronger, as building relationships with characters from the underworld and Mount Olympus helps you grow.

The story is engaging, the gameplay is fast-paced and rewarding, the artistic design is detailed and beautiful, and the voices don’t cringe. What more could you want?

Donut County

Image: Donut County / Ben Esposito

If you have an hour or two to complete, Donut County has you covered. The story-based physics adventure game is a light treat that doesn’t take too long to complete and is perfect for anyone who just wants to be a little chaotic.

Donut County, clear and simple, is a game where you control a hole in the ground. With every little thing you catch in the hole, it gets bigger, meaning you can knock bigger things down the hole. The story revolves around a small town that has a large raccoon-run hole making company that sets up shop and, of course, makes holes. You mainly play as one of those raccoons, BK, as well as BK’s best friend, Mira.

While the playing time is short and there isn’t much leeway in terms of what you can do other than what is expected of you, Donut County is a fun and a chill Katamari-as a game for anyone who just wants to knock things down the drain.

Hollow Knight: Void Heart Edition

Image: Hollow Knight / Team Cherry

We have an Australian game here, and it’s a gift. This Metroidvania action-adventure game has long been acclaimed since its release, with largely positive reviews, ratings between perfect 8 and 10, and a slew of award nominations.

The game takes place in Hallownest, and the player controls a silent protagonist exploring the underworld. The game has multiple endings, so there is a lot to do. Similar to Dark souls, The game is difficult to a point where it can best be described as ruthless, but the difficulty of the fights in the game makes you feel a strong sense of accomplishment once you overcome them.

the Void Heart Edition Available on Game Pass means players get access to the game as well as 4 huge content packs that give the game more quests, more boss fights, and more abilities. If you want to play the game, you can play the accompanying edition as well.

Darkest Dungeon

Image: Darkest Dungeon / Red Hook Studios.

Nothing like an incredibly dark and sinister title to keep you entertained. Darkest Dungeon is a gothic side-scrolling role-playing game that uses a turn-based combat system. The game has been out for about 6 years now and is available on just about all platforms, including mobiles (however, the text is a bit difficult to read unless your phone is the size of an iPad) , but it’s a good choice for those who like a challenge.

You control a team of four heroes while exploring dark and damp dungeons, with the heroes you accumulate by playing the game consisting of 15 different classes. You face some truly grotesque enemies, with your torch light fading as you move through dungeons and enemies getting stronger as the light fades. The game sets aside leveling and replaces it with “resolve,” with aspects of the game testing the hero’s “resolve”, leaving it up to the player to deal with any ailments the heroes develop.

It’s a tough game with a lot of stuff to deal with, but once you get into the rhythm of the proper preparations and planning for your next trip, it almost becomes addicting.

Outlaw of hypnosis

Image: Hypnospace Outlaw / ThatWhichIs Media / Michael Lasch / Tendershoot

Hey guys, do you remember the nineties? Do you remember the period between 1989 and 2000? Are you a ’90s kid? Whether or not you remember the internet from the 90s, Outlaw of hypnosis captures it incredibly well while being a weird, wacky race.

The 90s Internet Simulator is a point-and-click adventure where you act as the Enforcer, which is essentially a volunteer mod that goes through Hypnospace’s goofy network to hunt down Internet baddies. The game is also about checking your inbox, avoiding viruses, and using useful or unnecessary apps. While the game isn’t as comprehensive as the previous games listed, it’s a fascinating experience with great satire and nostalgia for the early days of the internet that is reminiscent of the GeoCities phase of the World Wide Web.

This one is perfect if you like investigative games and point-and-click stories, but you might get a little bored if these kinds of games aren’t your thing.

The wild heart

Image: Wild Children at Heart / Moonlight.

You could see The wild heart appears on my favorite games this year, and it deserves this spot. This whimsical adventure game uses the game mechanics of the “little guys who help you” we know from. Pikmin and weaves it into a childhood fantasy story accompanied by a wonderful artistic design that is reminiscent of Above the garden wall meets Night in the woods.

As both Wake and Kirby, two children who have run away from home, you explore the deep woods and find yourself embroiled in the work of an interesting order of guardians tasked with protecting the kingdom. You also collect and control a range of different elemental beings called Spritelings (hence the Pikmin association), which help you do stuff, break stuff, fight stuff and more.

The art style of this game is really rich, and the story and gameplay are immersive enough to keep you entertained for hours. All fans of indie adventure / puzzle games will have a great time with this one.

Galactic Deep Rock

Image: Deep Rock Galactic / Ghost ship games.

Loved by many even before its official launch, Galactic Deep Rock is a four player co-op shooter which is fun to play with your friends. In an interview with GameRant, game director Mikkel Pedersen notes that the game is designed to be accessible to both newbies and veterans of the genre. We love to see a fun shooting game for everyone.

The sci-fi first-person shooter puts you and up to three friends as four dwarves of different classes. The caves you mine are all procedurally generated and exist for you to explore, mine, and explode your way.

With explosive and exciting gameplay in very intense environments that always offer you something new, this game is an awesome mix of Left 4 Dead, Minecraft and Starship Troopers it’s great fun for players of all skill levels. You may have noticed that I have talked a lot about friends and buddies, and that’s because Galactic Deep Rock is best played with others.

Pikuniku

Image: Pikuniku / Sectordub.

Pikuniku is wacky as hell and that’s why we love it. You never really know what to expect with this puzzle rig because there is more than it looks when you play. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously without making the player feel stupid.

You play the game like a red drop with very flexible legs which are great for kicking. You wake up in a cave with a ghost and as you exit said cave you enter a world that you don’t trust. You bounce through the game meeting all kinds of funny little guys and soon learn that all is not as it seems in this colorful country. There is also a co-op mode where you and a friend can solve puzzles together which is great fun.

I’m not sure exactly who this game was made for or why, but it’s a lot of fun and the writing is simple yet witty. It’s a fun little puzzle game with a neat story that you can complete in about three or four hours.

Artistic escape

Image: The artistic escape / Beethoven & Dinosaur.

We have another fantastic Aussie game here, and it’s also a blast start. Artistic escape is a 2D adventure platformer game and a psychedelic and wonderful audiovisual experience. It’s no surprise that publisher Annapurna Interactive chose this one given its history of unique bangers.

You play as Francis Vendetti, the teenage nephew of a country music legend, as you explore yourself while battling your uncle’s legacy and your own imagination. It’s a short game that stays fresh with the sheer spectacle of its artistic conception and the sheer musical power behind it. A real treat for the eyes and the ears.

If you are looking for a challenge, this game is probably not for you. However, if you are looking for a game that you will remember, I would recommend giving this one a try.

Notable mentions

  • Aragami 2
  • Unpacking
  • What remains of Edith Finch
  • Subnautical
  • Spiritist
  • Dead cells

Here are some of our available favorites, what are yours? Let us know!


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